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India, Himachal Pradesh, Miyar Valley, Buttress 5,650m, First Ascent, Via West Face (Million Indian Stars); Pt 5,750m ("Grandfather Enzo Peak"), South Face-Southeast Ridge

Buttress 5,650m, first ascent, via west face (Million Indian Stars); Pt 5,750m (“Grandfather Enzo Peak”), south face-southeast ridge. In August an Italian expedition led by Massimo Marcheggiani, and which included Nadia Benedettini, Mariano Fabrizi, Massimo Natalini, and I headed back to the Miyar Nala. After expeditions in 1992 and 1996, when he climbed four virgin peaks, including the now well-known Neverseen Tower (AAJ 1997 pp. 274-6), Marcheggiani’s goal was the unclimbed east pillar of Three Peaks Mountain. [This is Marcheggiani’s name for the unclimbed 6,000+m peak at the head of the so-called Spaghetti Glacier, also known as Thunder Glacier, and locally called Dali Glacier. The west-facing rock wall overlooking the glacier has been attempted several times, and in 2003 Slovaks Dodo Kopold and Ivan Stefanski climbed to a 5,845m foresummit that they christened Mahindra. The east side, overlooking the Tawa Glacier, has not been attempted—Ed.].

We established base camp at the usual place, just below the moraine of the Tawa Glacier at N 33° 01' 53.5" E 76° 48' 40.9" (GPS measurement). Our team was unable to attempt Three Peaks Mountain, but on August 31 and September 1 Marcheggiani and Natalini made the first ascent of a subsidiary buttress on the west face of the second peak to the right of Neverseen Tower. From Camp 1, at 4,950m on the glacier, their route followed an obvious Z-shaped feature: a sinuous couloir and mixed terrain followed by a complex and dangerous rock face. After a bivouac without a tent, the two climbers reached the top of the buttress at 5,650m, having finished via a beautiful crack system on the left. They named the route Million Indian Stars. It finished some distance below the summit of the mountain and was graded M6+ A1 and 5c.

After four days rest at Camp 1, Marcheggiani and Natalini made the second ascent of Pt 5,750m, climbed in 1992 by Marcheggiani, Di Vincenzo, and Miele by a 600m line up the south face and upper southeast ridge (ice couloir approach then 5c). This time the pair climbed the approach couloir all the way to the col between 5,750m and Neverseen Tower, then climbed the southeast ridge directly to join the original route. This gave pleasant climbing at 4c over rough granite slabs. They named the col “Tiziano Cantalamessa Col” and have proposed that the summit be called “Grandfather Enzo Peak.”

Ice conditions in this area have deteriorated markedly since my visit in 1996. During last year’s expedition stonefall seemed continuous, and it appears to be increasingly dangerous to climb on these beautiful peaks. Also, the Tawa Glacier has retreated significantly in the last 10 years.

Francesco Camilucci, Italy